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Mike Hemmat
OPTI 521
November 2011
Synopsis of Technical Report:
โ€œLow cost, lightweight, large aperture, laser
Robert E. Parks
Lian Zhen Shao
Proc. Of SPIE Vol. 1113, Reflective Optics II, ed. D G Korsch (Oct 1989) Copyright SPIE
The purpose of this technical report is to evolve the standard design practice for building LIDAR
telescopes or beam expanders. Current standards are presented with quantitative values and then
directly compared to the improvements suggested. Parameters for determining improvement are cost,
weight, and specifically cost per unit area of aperture.
Three primary advances are employed to achieve the improvements desired. First, use of a
lightweight borosilicate primary slumped mirror to reduce weight and cost. Second, due to the fact that
the system operates in a basically paraxial manner, the primary mirror design tolerance and build
complexity is significantly reduced which results in cost savings. Third, exploitation of different
structural materialโ€™s CTEs to passively maintain alignment during thermal excursions.
Optical Design
Primary mirrors are traditionally shaped and polished from a solid blank. The first major system
improvement is to instead use a lightweight borosilicate primary mirror slumped to the net shape of the
desired curvature. This method of producing the largest optic in the system reduces the mass of the
primary by approximately 75%. When evaluating the optical performance, it is shown that due to
environmental perturbations, a 3 arc second field of view is the best that can be achieved without more
sophisticated field distortion compensation. Using this information and the fact that the system
basically operates in the paraxial regime, it is possible to make the primary mirror spherical and not
aspherical. An aspherical primary would need much more labor to polish in the 125 microns of
asphericity. Then testing the mirror would require either a full aperture flat or a fast null lens. Both of
these options are much more expensive to test than the solution presented. By making the primary a
spherical mirror then the secondary is designed to be a Mangin mirror of fused silica.
The secondary mirror must have an aspheric shape for near diffraction limited performance, but
because the secondary mirror is much smaller than the primary, testing the shape the mirror is much
cheaper and easier. The suggested test method is to use a simple Offner null lens with two elements
each about 50 mm in diameter. Due to the performance required from this system, the alignment
tolerances are fairly loose with the exception of the primary to secondary despace.
Mechanical Design
Figure 1: Tubular steel telescope structure
Figure 1 illustrates one possible mechanical design for mounting the telescope mirrors. While
the construction of the assembly is straightforward, maintaining alignment over thermal perturbations
is difficult. The innovation here is to use two common metals with different coefficients of thermal
expansion. The two metals considered are steel and aluminum, both readily available and relatively
cheap. The idea is to create most of the structure out of steel with the exception of the secondary
mirror head ring. Because the CTE of Aluminum is greater than that of steel, shorter length will expand
more or less evenly under the same thermal stress. To calculate the ratios of length with regard to CTEs,
we use the following geometric argument.
Figure 2: Model of athermal telescope structure
๐‘™ 2 = (๐‘† โˆ’ ๐ฟ)2 + ๐ท 2
๐‘™ โˆ†๐‘™ = โˆ’(๐‘† โˆ’ ๐ฟ)โˆ†๐ฟ + ๐ทโˆ†๐ท
Where โˆ†๐‘™ = ๐›ผ๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘’๐‘™ ๐‘™
โˆ†๐ฟ = ๐›ผ๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘’๐‘™ ๐ฟ
โˆ†๐ท = ๐›ผ๐‘Ž๐‘™๐‘ข๐‘š๐‘–๐‘›๐‘ข๐‘š ๐ท
๐‘† 2 + ๐ท 2 (1 โˆ’ ๐›ผ
๐›ผ๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘’๐‘™
Using the parameters of a comparable UV system the value of L is about 91.5% of S to achieve an
athermal structure.
The direct comparison of the lightweighting concept to the overall system is shown in Table 1.
The most sensitive parameters have been addressed. However, for a more rigorous computation of the
thermal performance of the system, the expansion and radius change of the primary and the index
variation of the secondary must be accounted for even though the effects are small. It should also be
noted that because the primary is significantly lighter, the self weight deflection is greatly reduced.
Primary Aperture
1.0 m
1.5 m
Telescope with solid primary (approx)
680 kg
2180 kg
Telescope with lightweight primary (approx)
190 kg
560 kg
Table 1: Compare between original and new design at 3 aperture diameters
2.0 m
5220 kg
1520 kg
It has been shown that not only will the overall system be significantly lighter with the
modifications described, but also much lower cost to manufacture and test. This technology is useful for
any design that requires a telescope or beam expander where the field of view is small and weight and
cost are issues. LIDAR was the driver for the design specs, but any telescope would benefit. In fact, the
optical analysis was done considering UV light, and still hold for visible and IR radiation as well. This is
important because most LIDAR is currently done in the Near IR.